South Florida’s craft beer scene is off to a robust start to the new year, with new breweries opening this month in Doral and Wynwood.
M.I.A. Brewing Co., which stands for Miami-Inspired Ales, is the work of partners Eddie Leon, Kevin Smith and Johann Beckford. With more than 15 beers on draft at its Doral taproom, M.I.A. is the city’s second craft brewery to open in recent months, after Biscayne Bay Brewing Co.
And in Miami, accomplished homebrewer Johnathan Wakefield this week opened his long-anticipated J Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood. It’s nearby Wynwood Brewing Co., which opened in 2013, and the forthcoming Concrete Beach Brewery.
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Leon said he thought maybe a few hundred people would show up for M.I.A.’s first weekend in business. Instead, 1,000 came in one day. The brewery burned through 41 kegs and raked in about $14,000.
“It’s not what we expected at all,” Leon said. “We had people driving over in their golf carts from the golf course nearby.”
The openings come at an important time for the local beer scene: South Florida Beer Week, now in its fourth year, runs through Jan. 24 with special tap takeovers, beer releases and other events.
As new breweries continue to bubble up in South Florida, Leon said they help each other contribute to the success of the industry as a whole.
“We are way behind, especially in Miami-Dade,” Leon said. “We only have a handful of breweries and a population of 2.6 million people. Together we are building the industry.”
M.I.A.’s 11,000-square-foot brewery and taproom will host a grand opening sometime next month; fellow Doral brewer Biscayne Bay plans to have a taproom up and running in the next several months. Founders of both breweries said they chose their locations in part to be close to a swelling population in west Miami-Dade.
“Doral is less expensive than Wynwood, and here we have all the infrastructure,” Leon said. “There’s also room to grow into the unit next door.”
Leon, who lives in Doral, started homebrewing as a student at Florida International University. “My wife got me a homebrewing kit,” he said, adding, “it was an expensive hobby.”
A few months before opening its taproom, M.I.A. began distributing kegs of its beers — all of them named with Miami pop culture in mind, like Miami Weiss, Tourist Trappe and Edenboc — to more than 20 area bars and restaurants, including Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, Churchill’s and World of Beer. Leon said he hopes to install a bottling line in the next six months.
One early perk of having a taproom, Leon said, is getting customers’ reactions to experimental beers. M.I.A. currently has a Belgian-style witbier called Mai Tai with homemade almond milk, orange peel and cherries; Leon wants to amp up the cherry flavor in the next batch.
“The great thing is customers can give us feedback on a beer on tap, and we can go back and refine the recipe.”
New local breweries
M.I.A. Brewing Co.: 10400 NW 33rd St., Doral; 786-801-1721, miabrewing.com, @MIAbrewing.
J Wakefield Brewing: 120 NW 24th St., Miami; jwakefieldbrewing.com, @JWBrewing.
Biscayne Bay Brewing Co.: 8000 NW 25th St., Miami; biscaynebaybrewing.com, @BiscayneBayBrew.
South Florida Beer Week
Highlighted events by day:
Saturday: SaltWater Brewery tap takeover, 4-7 p.m. at Papa’s Raw Bar, 4610 N. Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point.
Sunday: Florida craft beer tap takeover, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. at Coolinary Café, 4650 Donald Ross Rd., Palm Beach Gardens.
Monday: Due South Brewing Co. beer dinner, 6:30 p.m. at the Blind Monk, 410 Evernia St., West Palm Beach. $50.
Tuesday: Cigar City, Swamphead and Saint Somewhere event at Riverside Market, 608 SW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
Wednesday: Miami bar crawl, 5 p.m. to midnight, begins at J Wakefield Brewing, 120 NW 24th St., Miami.
More events: southfloridabeerweek.blogspot.com.
Brew in Miami
Click here to see our South Florida craft beer videos with Food Editor Evan S. Benn.